Twitter's self-serve ad platform is now available to all U.S. users, rather than just on an invitation-only basis. The social media platform has also added enhancements designed to help advertisers better analyze and manage their ad campaigns.
In an online statement, Twitter said it has widened reporting on user engagement with Promoted Tweets - the sponsored tweets that appear at the top of its news feed - to include not just paid media but also earned media, or those that are voluntarily retweeted or commented on by other Twitter users.
"This change gives marketers more complete insight into the impact Promoted Tweets have in driving engagement and exposure on Twitter," the company says.
Twitter also made changes in its ads center that it claims gives advertisers more detail on audience segments, allowing them to view their audience, for example, by device, location, gender, and interest.
Twitter has been slowly phasing in Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts over the past few years, and in March announced the availability of a self-serve ad platform to a limited number of companies by invitation only. For some marketers, the wider availability of Twitter's ad platform comes none too soon.
"People have been salivating for an ad platform on Twitter for quite a while. If they had launched this one or two years ago, it would have been rolling along by now," says Maciej Fita, SEO director at Brandignity, a Naples, Florida-based agency that helps small-to-medium-sized companies with digital marketing efforts.
Fita, who said a few of his clients have tried out the platform in beta, welcomed the new analytics abilities but said that Twitter still had a long way to go in terms of offering a mature ad platform. "I don't think the conversion tracking is that good and maneuvering though the ad platform is somewhat confusing," he says, noting that it would take Twitter a while to approach the level of Google AdWords or Facebook in allowing companies to see precisely where conversions were coming from.
Twitter is not the only social media or content company scrambling to court advertisers by integrating promoted material and analytics into its site. Yahoo, for example, this week also announced the launch of Yahoo Stream Ads, performance-based native advertisements that are embedded in the personalized content stream on the new Yahoo home page. It also introduced Billboard, an ad positioned at the top of the Yahoo home page designed to "enhance the user experience with rich and immersive interactions," according to Yahoo. Finally, it also launched a new video ad buying method that blends its own topical video channels with distribution partners' video content, promising greater contextual relevance for advertisers.
Tumblr also this week announced plans for mobile advertisements in the form of sponsored posts, about a year after it began introducing ads on its Internet platform. The company said it is trialing sponsored posts in its mobile through the end of May, featuring ads from GE, Pepsi, Warner Bros., ABC Entertainment, and ABC Family.
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Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is a freelance writer based in Jersey City who frequently covers digital marketing, social media, tech startups, and venture capital. She has contributed to a wide range of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Red Herring, and Real Deals. Find her on Twitter at @mldamico.
March 19, 2014